I think I’m one of the greatest photography bloggers of all-time. Here is some practical advice I would give you on how to blog:
What is a ‘blog’?
A blog is simply a ‘weB–LOG‘. A ‘web log’ is simply a log (history) of your online “web” activities.
When I was a teenager, blogging was done mostly as a personal (public) diary. You would share what you did that day, what you ate, what you saw, etc.
Later on, blogging became more of a ‘how-to’ type of media-creation. Google searches are mostly about how to do something. Thus, tons of bloggers started to create information on how to do things (like myself, on ‘how’ to shoot street photography).
Later, blogging turned more into a platform where an individual could write essays on certain topics, sharing their personal opinion with an audience. Bloggers soon became taste-makers, individuals with strong opinions, who started to gain much influence.
Nowadays, it seems that blogging is a bit ‘dead’ (medium.com seems to be the only platform with a thriving blogging community). Now, ‘vlogging‘ (creating video logs of your everyday activities) seems to be in vogue. Why has this happened? I think most people prefer to watch videos and listen to audio instead of reading text (I personally prefer to read, but I seem to be the minority).
How to start your own blog
If you want to start your own blog, I think the best option is to self-host your own blog, which means purchasing a domain and website domain through a provider like bluehost.com, or “1and1” (what I currently use) in order to install wordpress.org. This will cost you only around $10 a month (the best thing money can buy, besides coffee).
The benefit of having your own self-hosted WordPress.org blog is that your website will be better ‘indexed’ by Google, thus, when people are searching for certain topics on the internet, they can discover you and your website/blog (a blog and website is essentially the same thing at this point). This is also related to this notion of ‘SEO’ (search engine optimization): creating information specific to a certain topic, in order to rank #1 in Google for that topic.
What does wordpress.org look like?
This is currently what my wordpress ‘dashboard’ looks like, in the ‘posts’ section.
When I am blogging, this is what the interface looks like:
You can start typing up stuff, or you can add pictures or other media:
Unfortunately the new WordPress (Version 5) with the ‘blocks’ is a bit confusing to navigate. My practical suggestion is to just keep playing around with it, until you figure out how it works.
What should I blog about?
The great thing about blogging is that you can blog about anything and everything!
Some basic ideas:
- Your personal opinion on a certain topic or idea
- Essays (attempts on trying to understand something)
- Just photos (make a set of images, you don’t always need to write)
- ‘How-to’ articles: describing how to do things (I generally recommend writing these kind of articles based on what YOU would want to learn how to do, if you did it all over again)
- Tip articles: Writing tips on a certain topic– advice you wish you could give yourself.
There are a billion different topics you can blog about. As long as it somehow involves video, text, images, and sound– it is all gravy.
How to find inspiration
Things which help me come up with ideas to blog about:
- Workout at the gym, and use a sauna (some of my best ideas come to me while working out).
- Go for a walk without headphones on.
- Take a hot shower (or if you’re bold, an icy-cold shower).
- Read philosophical texts you are interested in.
- Write about things which confuse you or frustrate you.
Don’t feel forced to blog.
You don’t need to whip yourself into blogging. Only blog when you feel like it. You can blog several times a day, once everyday, once every 3 days, once every week, once every month, once every year– whatever!
I blog a lot because I enjoy it. To me, blogging is like thinking — as I am blogging, I am distilling my thoughts, and better understanding myself. Furthermore, blogging is a good way for me to mentally challenge myself– to challenge my own beliefs, and to explicate my thoughts into words.
Thus my practical tip is this:
First, blog to please yourself.
Just blog for one person
Even though I know I have thousands of readers, I blog as if I am blogging for only one person. I like this, because it allows me to stay conversational, down-to-earth, and real.
Furthermore, it is a lot easier to blog when you feel like you’re just having a conversation with 1 person, rather than trying to please an audience of unknown size.
Write in letter format
A good way to get your creative juices rolling is to write in a letter format.
I like to start a lot of my blog posts with: “Dear friend,” — which helps me start typing out my thoughts and ideas.
Don’t edit while you’re writing
Another very practical tip:
Don’t edit or change your text while you’re writing. Just write, and edit later (if you want).
Personally I like the creative flow of writing. I don’t worry too much about editing; as long as there aren’t (too many) typos in my blog posts, I don’t mind.
I’ve never been good with grammar my whole life, but I don’t care too much. Why? I prefer to talk over writing any day; so I write like how I talk. For me, the benefit of writing like you talk is:
- You seem more human and relatable.
- You don’t hit ‘writer’s block‘ (consider– nobody ever has ‘speaker’s block’)
- Your blog posts end up being more fun, genuine, and playful.
Don’t take blogging seriously
If you take blogging seriously, I don’t think you will ever become a productive blogger.
For myself, I treat blogging like fun. Digital fun. I like to create out of a spirit of playful joy; not like it is some sort of heavy ‘duty’ or obligation.
Your blog is just an extension of your (real) life. So have fun, keep it real, down-to-earth, and have fun!
If blogging ain’t fun for you; what is the point?